Connecting with the ocean at museum film festival

An audience watches a documentary screened in the museum’s environmental room.

Connecting with the ocean and our environment lay at the heart of the Trammakas (Sea) Film Festival held at the Simon’s Town Museum.

According to the museum, the Afrikaans expression, tramma kassie, or “thank you” in English, is a derivative of the Malay expression of gratitude, terima kasih, which reflects a connection to the ocean while telling a story of slavery, of exile, and a reconstitution of home.

The museum partnered with Nature, Environment, Wildlife and Film (NEWF), the Cape Town Museum of Childhood, the Princess Vlei Forum, Arkys Outreach and Oceaneers to host the festival, which ran from Thursday July 28 to Saturday July 30, according to Tazneem Wentzel, the museum’s education officer.

Films by NEWF film-makers were screened on Saturday July 30, from 10am to 1pm followed by a discussion. The line-up included Ulwandle Lushile by Tembisa Jordaan, Hluleka by Jamila Janna, Between the Tides by Jess Lambson, Azilali by Fanie Loubser, Rise from the Cape Flats by Mogamat Shamier Magmoet, Phefumla by Maisha Mosala and Seeking Giants by Fidel Tshivhasa.

The documentaries, which were screened in the museum’s environmental room, were very well supported by an audience of all ages, said Ms Wentzel.

“We were very happy to host the Chacma Champions, The Fisher Child Project, as well as a group of young learners from a robotics school in Bellville. We were also privileged to have Jamilla Janna, director of Hlulleka and Loyiso Dunga, the star of Phefumla, join the event,” she said.

As part of the festival, the museum also ran an education conservation programme, which included shoreline and wetlands workshops, that exposed pupils from Bonteheuwel’s Brambleway Primary School to the environment and showed them how species are connected.

The Rocky Shore workshop dealt with beach safety and how to help stranded animals such as whales,dolphins or seals. Participants explored the shoreline looking for various objects and animals on the beach.

“The enthusiasm of the students, some seeing and experiencing the ocean for the first time, was tangible and infectious. Witnessing that reconnection with nature is powerful and is what essentially drives the programmes that we run,” said Sally Sivewright who ran the workshop.

She is the projects director of ARKYS Outreach, a non-profit company that runs upliftment and training projects in communities.

The wetlands workshop was held at the museum and was led by Denisha Anand, on behalf of the Princess Vlei Forum, an organisation that focuses on wetland restoration and community conservation.

“The workshop was aimed at creating an awareness around the interconnectedness of water, people and plants using a wetland as a reference system. Wetlands play an important role in purifying water before it reaches the ocean. They’re therefore invaluable especially in an urban environment,” Ms Anand said.

The lecture hall at the museum, was transformed into an interactive space where participants in the workshop could touch, taste, feel, and discuss.

“We also spoke about all the species, including plants which make up these ecosystems and how they’re important not only because of their biodiversity value but also for their cultural value,” Ms Anand said.

“They learnt about home making with restios and medicine making with bruin salie. It was a fun day all round.”

A Rocky Shore workshop gave participants an opportunity to explore the beach.